The Idaho Transportation Board, in a special session Thursday, took a positive step in addressing the salary needs of ITD employees. The board approved a resolution that commits $5.3 million of the department’s personnel savings to employee compensation – adding to the 3 percent ($2.6 million) increase recently authorized by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Kempthorne.
The salary action plan addresses more than one-half of the estimated $15 million shortfall identified in 2005 as needed to fund ITD employee salaries at competitive rates.
“In addition to his proposal for early implementation of a 3 percent pay raise in his State of the State address, the governor encouraged agencies to be innovative in their approach to employee compensation,” said ITD Director Dave Ekern. “We received strong support from legislators during our outreach meetings and support from representatives of the Division of Financial Management and the Legislative Services Office during the budget preparation process.”
“The board recognizes the difficulty the department has in recruiting and retaining highly qualified employees,” said transportation board Chair Chuck Winder. “This resolution takes a significant step toward addressing the compensation needs of our employees. But it is only one step. We must continue to look for ways to make employee salaries competitive with both the private sector and other public agencies.”
Board member Bruce Sweeney of Lewiston called the action an aggressive approach. “We should continue to be aggressive,” he said. He encouraged the department to be forward and realistic in presenting its needs.
The board resolution will provide permanent merit increases to employees with satisfactory or above performance as indicated on their annual review. The total compensation range, including the 3 percent authorized by the Legislature and approved by the governor, will be between 5.75 and 9.5 percent, based on the individual’s current performance review.
In addition to the permanent increase, the board action moves employees who have been in their current position five years or more to the policy point – or the 100 percent point of their pay range. It allocates $1 million to classes that experience excess turnover and difficulty in recruitment and retention in an effort to move them closer to policy point.
Short-term merits also will be given in addition to the permanent increase. One-time bonuses will be given to those who are not eligible for the short-term merits because of pay range limitations. Employees who are covered by compensatory time and now have a balance will receive payment for that earned time in February rather than at the end of the fiscal year.
“We are working hard to ensure the salary changes coincide with the increase authorized by the Legislature, which go into effect Monday, Jan. 29,” said Susan Simmons, Administrator of the Division of Administration. The increases will be paid out beginning Feb. 24.
Details of the individual increases will be sent to employees by letter within the next two weeks.
“A team of ITD staff and administrators worked hard to identify funds and recommend an appropriate compensation plan to present to the board,” Ekern said.
That team was composed of: